Mellon endows Randel music teaching fellowships

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Syl Kacapyr
Don Randel

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has endowed a pair of teaching fellowships for Cornell graduate students in the field of music, named in honor of emeritus professor and former Cornell provost Don M. Randel upon his retirement as president of the foundation after a tenure of seven years.

The foundation awarded the grant to Cornell in recognition of Randel’s “sustained and inspired advocacy of undergraduate teaching and of the value of music in a liberal arts education, as well as his transformational leadership in supporting the arts and humanities throughout his career in academia and philanthropy.”

The Don M. Randel Teaching Fellowships will fund a full year of support for two outstanding graduate students in music, and focus on their teaching development, providing impetus and opportunity to create innovative undergraduate courses and to deepen their instructional skills.

Working in consultation with a designated teaching mentor from the music faculty, Randel fellows will spend their first semester preparing a new Department of Music course (which may also be cross-listed with another department or program) and teach that course in the second semester.

At the completion of the fellowship year, each fellow will submit course materials to the department (including assignments and anonymous examples of student work), to be housed in the Music Library and made available for research into best teaching practices. Fellows also will give a post-fellowship public presentation on the course, its planning and its results.

Selection will be competitive, based on advanced teaching skills and on course proposals submitted each spring to a music faculty panel. Engaging and innovative topics and teaching approaches that will improve effectiveness in student learning will be encouraged.

“We in the Department of Music recognize Don Randel’s commitment to humanities education as important and estimable,” said department chair Steven Pond. “These fellowships reflect our desire that any fellowship in his name have a direct, meaningful and broad impact on our educational mission, while representing some of his own proclivities.”

An early music specialist, Randel’s scholarly research interests included Renaissance music and culture, Mozarabic chant and the music of the Middle Ages, as well as Arabic music theory, Panamanian music, salsa and jazz. He edited the Harvard Dictionary of Music, Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music and the Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians, all standard references in the field.

Randel was at Cornell for more than 30 years after joining the faculty in 1968. He was the Given Foundation Professor of Musicology and served as Department of Music chair from 1971-75, vice provost from 1978-79, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1989-91, dean from 1991-95 and provost from 1995-2000. While he was dean and provost, he chaired a task force on undergraduate education. He left to serve as president of the University of Chicago from 2000-06.

“As chair, Randel worked to promote a vibrant collaboration [between] historical and ethnomusicological scholarship, composition and music theory, and performance,” Pond wrote to the Mellon Foundation. “Each of these activities informs the other: a ‘three-legged stool.’ We take to heart the idea that theory and practice are intimately entwined. This inclusive philosophy has also characterized his administrative career outside the department, particularly visible in his attentiveness to undergraduate teaching generally and in his sustained championing of the humanities as a foundation for a liberal arts education.”

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